Francis of Assisi is undoubtedly one of the people’s favorite saints, and how could he not be? He is the patron saint of animals and was well known for his compassion for all living things. Such was his dedication that he gave up the comfortable life afforded to him by his father who was a wealthy merchant. He would eventually found the order of Franciscans, a group dedicated to living by his example.
Though the traditional feast day for Saint Francis is in October, some Catholics celebrate the Blessing of the Animals on January 17. Catholics and non-Catholics alike gather up their pets to receive a blessing from a priest. Holy water is usually sprinkled on them while a brief recitation is given; this celebration is of course typically done outside and draws in a crowd. To some, this may seem a bit odd, but we see no reason to restrict the offering of blessings to just humans. Animals can be loyal companions and important fixtures in our lives. Christians often bless things like days and meals, so surely it is no stretch to bless a pet.
With his compassion for the poor and his care for animals, Saint Francis was truly at peace with his surroundings and himself. This is an attitude that we recommend for all who have chosen to get ordained with the Universal Life Church, and indeed, for people in general. We should all strive to be so known for offering love and help to all creatures big and small.